If you ask us, hitch platform racks remain one of the best ways to transport your bikes. Short of having them safely mounted inside a large vehicle, hitch platform style racks keep your bikes out of the wind/bugs, they keep them easily accessible, securely mounted, and the better ones offer zero contact with the frame. Because of that, there are a number of options out there from a bunch of different companies.
RockyMounts has been pursuing a better bike rack since 1993, but lately they’ve really been pushing hard with a completely revised line. Introduced a little over a year ago, the SplitRail is RockyMounts’ take on a light weight hitch mounted tray style rack with a good amount of adjustment that’s fairly easy to use…
RockyMounts claims that the SplitRail is the lightest expandable hitch rack available, and it’s certainly light. At 44 lbs for the two bike 2″ version, it is a bit easier to move around the garage or install on your car. The lower weight is even more noticeable when you add on one or two additional trays. Anyone who has had to move around a four bike tray style rack knows it’s not exactly enjoyable. The four bike SplitRail makes it a bit easier, which is always good.
In order to increase the capacity of your rack, the SplitRail is a modular design with single bike add ons which sell for $219.95 each. Giving you the option of three or four bike capacity, the SplitRail is a bit unique in that the spacing changes between the bikes if you opt for the four bike version. For two or three bike configurations, each tray has 12″ spacing on center between each bike. However, once you go to four bikes you have to remove a spacer and then the spacing becomes 9″ on center between the outer three bikes – though the spacing remains 12″ between tray one and two.
To eliminate interference issues between bikes, each tray has 4″ of side to side adjustment with three different bolt positions on the tray. Since it requires unscrewing each tray from the center mast, this isn’t an adjustment you’re going to be making on the fly, but once they’re set to your preferred position it works pretty well as long as you’re not constantly trying to fit new bikes. The trays themselves are pretty simple with non-adjustable cradles for the tires, a single ratchet strap for the rear wheel, and a ratcheting hook for the front wheel. After a full season, the ratcheting hook is still in great shape and stays in place which hasn’t always been the case for some of their competition.
Even without adjustments, the trays seem to work well with just about every wheel and tire size up to 29 x 3.0″. When used with smaller tires, the ratchet strap sits above the rim with a gap, unless you slide the strap and buckle toward the center of the rack. Either way, it seemed to work just fine without any issues. While the wheel hook is meant for the front wheel, on bikes like the Surly ECR above where Anything cages on the fork prevented it from properly securing, flipping the bike around seemed to work just fine.
Officially, the rack will fit 20-29″ wheels with a 48″ maximum wheel base. Weight limits are listed as 60lbs per bike in the two bike configuration, or 40lbs per bike with one or two add ons installed.
The SplitRail has a great latch mechanism with a quick release handle, though once the rack has been converted to the four bike version it becomes a little harder to get to since you have to reach to the center of the rack. Equipped with an integrated anti-wobble mechanism, the rack snugs up inside the hitch with the turn of the handle at the base.
The rack also includes a locking hitch pin to lock the rack to the vehicle, as well as locking cables for each arm. Due to their length, the lock cables can really only attach to the frame leaving wheels vulnerable, and the lock is a little cumbersome due to the detachable base that has to be looped around to the lock head. They work, but there are better lock systems out there.
In use, the SplitRail is an excellent rack that is very easy to load and unload. The only difficulty comes from the reduced spacing on the four bike rack that can leave some handlebar interference depending on the size and style of bikes used. This is only an issue if you’re using it in the four bike configuration and is an inconvenience more than anything. To get the four bikes loaded above, it just took some trial and error to figure out which bike fit best, where. Because of that, I would recommend this rack more in the two or three bike configuration than the four. However, it remains one of the lightest options for a four bike tray style hitch rack, so if that is high on your priority list the spacing issue can be overlooked.
The SplitRail retails for $499.95 for the two bike version, or $939.85 for the four bike version as tested here.